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NCJ Number: 70084 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Police Review Boards - Hoax or Hope?
Journal: Columbia University Forum  Dated:(Summer 1966)  Pages:1-7
Author(s): W Gellhorn
Date Published: 1966
Page Count: 7
Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Justice
Grant Number: 068
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The weaknesses of civilian police review boards are considered, and the use of 'ombudsmen' similar to those in the Scandinavian countries and New Zealand is recommended.
Abstract: In recent years, a nonjudicial civilian review board apart from the police authorities has been most often advocated for dealing with citizens' grievances against police administration. Although civilian superintendence of police department personnel existed in many cities by 1966, wholly independent civilian review boards were maintained only in Philadelphia, Pa., and Rochester, N. Y., in order to inquire into grievances, hold trial hearings, and advise the police authorities on disciplinary action against policemen who had offended. However, none of these have been particularly successful because (1) they have not had authority over all police organizations (transportation police, housing police, etc.) in their areas, and (2) they presuppose a polarization of the complainant on the one side and the accused policeman on the other -- a situation which discourages grievances since complainants may become involved in lengthy hearing processes. 'Ombudsmen' with authority to examine the entire range of municipal administration and to insure that police heads are entirely responsible for the actions of their subordinates would provide a better solution. In other countries, they have successfully exposed slipshod administration and poor attitudes; recommended suitable solutions to problems; reinforced citizens' confidence in public administrators by showing the flimsiness of accusations that had at first seemed grave; gained fuller acceptance of police determinations regarding police misconduct; and helped to draw public attention to problems faced by police organizations. Under the surveillance of the ombudsmen, police heads judge and discipline staff members whose actions have been challenged, so that professionals appraise fellow professionals. Police are encouraged to make frank disclosures of their findings and to allow the complainant to comment and make further suggestions. Footnotes or references are not provided.
Index Term(s): Civilian Review Boards; Complaints against police; Ombudsmen; Police internal investigations
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